When you hear the words proximal humerus fracture, what first comes to your mind? It might sound like a complicated word like a spell that is used in the popular movie series like Harry Potter but it is not. In fact, proximal humerus fracture is a fracture of the shoulder that is most common in older people.
The fracture is usually located at the upper end of your humerus or what you must know as the arm bone. Most of the time, the fracture is caused by a direct hit on the said bone. There are also times when the bone will get fractured due to high-energy trauma or a huge fall.
The good news is that there is still a way for you to cure this condition. Continue reading to know more about the recovery process of proximal humerus fracture here.
Proximal Humerus Fracture Treatment
Lucky for you, around 80% of those with this condition are easily treated with a sling. Meaning to say, you no longer have to undergo a surgery or other complicated treatments. Through a sling, you can rest the injured shoulder for about two to three weeks. Then, you can do a range of motion exercises such as the following:
- Medial rotation up to 90 degrees
- Flexion up to 180 degrees
- Lateral rotation up to 90 degrees
- Extension up to 50 degrees
- Adduction from 90 to 0 degrees
- Abduction up to 90 degrees
You can also do shoulder strengthening exercises within 3 months to further improve the condition of your shoulder. Below are the exercises you can do:
- Stretching a stiff shoulder. This is the most important part of the treatment. By doing this, you can eliminate and reduce the risk of having a stiff shoulder.
- Simple shoulder exercises. For this workout, you can do pendulum exercises. This type of activity requires you to bend your arm forward then hang it on the ground. Then, make small circles using your hand.
- Neck and upper back exercises. You can do workouts that involve your upper back and neck as well. This can also improve your posture.
On the other hand, if your condition is severe to the point that the bone is already displaced, you might have to undergo a surgery. This procedure will align and hold your bone fragments using metal implants.
You can also have a shoulder replacement. In this kind of treatment, metal and plastic will replace your damaged bone and cartilages. The humerus, then, is replaced with a metal implant. Other procedures that can be done for this condition are reverse shoulder replacement and standard shoulder replacement.
Take note that the cure for proximal humerus fracture will depend on how injured your shoulder is. The doctor will even have to check if you are qualified to undergo the surgery. Once you are eligible and is done with the procedure, you need to have an adequate rest for your shoulder to heal.
In general, proximal humerus fracture takes around 12 weeks to heal if you are still young. The healing process will depend on different factors including your age. In fact, children with this condition can be healed within four weeks. Meanwhile, other patients can wait until 12 months to fully recover.
What Happens During Proximal Humerus Fracture Rehab
On your first two weeks, you can expect to feel pain all over your affected shoulder. There can even be times when you will feel as if your bones are moving on its own. In addition, you will notice that your hand and arm will become swollen. What you can do during this time are an elbow, thumb, and wrist motions.
You might also find it difficult to move your fingers. In some cases, your fingers might be bluish. Do not worry, though, these symptoms will not last as days and weeks pass by. Keeping the sling loose will also help in lessening the pain on your shoulder.
After weeks, your shoulder strength will be back. But do not take advantage of this situation and continue to rest. If you are an athlete, you are still not advised to play any games even after a year. There are even cases when you can still feel pain due to the weather conditions.
Proximal Humerus Fracture Complications
Just like most ailments, you can expect complications when you do not immediately treat proximal humerus fracture. Most of the time, the consequences are more difficult if the bone is dislocated. When this happens, you will have a hard time moving your shoulder. The risk of having arthritis is also higher with this illness.
There are also complications in relation to surgeries. If the procedure is not done properly, you might suffer nerve injury, wound healing problems, and infection. The worst case scenario would be nonunion, in which the bones fail to unite, causing another fracture.
There are also cases when the bone did not heal properly. With this, there is a tendency for the metal implants to fail as well. When this happens, the doctor might recommend that you undergo another surgery.
Types of Proximal Humerus Fractures
It is important to note that there are different types and numbers of proximal humerus fractures. Learn more about these below.
- Two-part fracture: this refers to the humeral neck fracture and greater tuberosity fracture.
- Three-part fracture
- Four-part fracture: this refers to the head, greater and lesser tuberosity, and the shaft.
For those who are still not familiar with this disorder, the “part” is used to refer to the displaced segment. Remember that even if there are multiple fracture lines in your shoulder, these will be considered as one-part only. The condition is considered as two-part when there is already a displacement.
Proximal humerus fracture is a condition in which there is a fracture on your shoulder. There are a lot of factors that can lead up to this ailment. The good news is that there are various ways to treat yourself. But do keep in mind that the recovery time will depend on your condition and age. Younger people tend to heal faster compared with older people. Despite those factors, the key solutions to treat yourself are exercises and lots of rest.